Nations Urged to Answer Prison Allegations
By JAN SLIVA / Associated Press / November 4, 2005
BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission said Friday it would encourage governments in Eastern Europe, and those seeking membership, to comment publicly on allegations that the CIA set up secret prisons in the region to interrogate al-Qaida suspects.
The allegations have already triggered a flurry of denials from governments in the former Soviet bloc and prompted European Union officials, the continent's top human rights organization and the international Red Cross to say they would look into the issue. Such prisons, European officials say, would violate the continent's human rights principles.
Friso Roscam Abbing, an EU spokesman, said the European Commission — the EU's executive office — would seek statements from governments that have not yet denied the existence of secret prisons on their territories to comment on the issue "if only to get as much clarity and transparency as possible."
The commission had earlier said it would make an informal investigation, requesting answers from all 25 member governments as well as EU candidates Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Turkey.
According to a report Wednesday in the Washington Post, the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al-Qaida captives at Soviet-era compounds in eastern Europe.
Human Rights Watch in New York said Thursday it had evidence indicating the CIA transported suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan to Poland and Romania. The conclusion is based on an analysis of flight logs of CIA aircraft from 2001 to 2004 obtained by the group, said Mark Garlasco, a senior military analyst with the organization.
Human Rights Watch said it matched the flight patterns of the CIA aircraft with testimony from some of the hundreds of detainees in the war on terrorism who have been released by the United States.
Garlasco told The Associated Press that two destinations of the flights in particular stood out as likely sites of any secret CIA detention centers: Szymany Airport in Poland, which is near the headquarters of Poland's intelligence service; and Mihail Kogalniceanu military airfield in Romania.
Poland and Romania have vigorously denied the existence of secret detention centers on their territories. U.S. officials have refused to confirm or deny the claims.
"It is obvious we'll take the statements of those countries for true. Only if we receive evidence which would prove the contrary we will decide what possible next steps to take in terms of contacting authorities," Roscam Abbing said.
He said Human Rights Watch told the commission there was "evidence there would have been transfer of people to the aforementioned countries in 2003 and 2004."
"We haven't heard anything about practices which would take place now. We need to know what it is (the Human Rights Watch) precisely are alleging," he said.
Roscam Abbing said there are American bases in many European countries and "one could even imagine that they could be used for transferring people."
"Another story would be if there were people held secretly for an x-number of days. That would amount to detention, and we have no evidence that this would be the case," he said.
According to the Post's report, the CIA set up a covert prison system nearly four years ago which at various times included sites in eight countries, including Afghanistan and several eastern Europe nations. It quoted current and former intelligence officials and diplomats as sources for its story.
The U.S. government has been criticized by human rights groups for practicing "extraordinary rendition" — sending suspected terrorists to foreign countries, where they are detained, interrogated and allegedly tortured.
Soldier Cleared in Afghan Abuse Trial
By ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press Writer Fri Nov 4, 4:30 PM ET
FORT BLISS, Texas - A military jury cleared an Army sergeant Friday of charges he abused a mentally retarded detainee at a U.S. detention facility in Afghanistan.
The jury took a half-hour to find Sgt. Duane M. Grubb not guilty. He is the third soldier from the Cincinnati-based 377th Military Police Company to be acquitted of striking and otherwise abusing detainees at the Bagram prison.
Grubb, 30, fought back tears and hugged his crying wife after hearing the verdict.
"I'm just glad that it is over," said his wife, Violeta.
Six soldiers from the company have been charged in an abuse investigation prompted by the deaths of two other detainees at the facility in 2002.
Grubb was accused of striking Zarif Khan, an inmate soldiers mockingly called "Timmy," after a disabled character on the cartoon "South Park." Khan, who was released from custody and could not be located to testify, was described during the court-martial as retarded.
Grubb, who had been accused of assault, maltreatment and making a false statement, testified that he never struck Khan. And his lawyer argued that the government's sole eyewitness, former Spc. Jeremy Callaway, contradicted his own testimony.
The defense attorney also questioned why Callaway was the only person to see the alleged abuse when other soldiers would have been in the area when it occurred.
Grubb said he plans to leave the Army and go back to his civilian life as a construction foreman in Bloomington, Ind.
Cheney's staff backed policies that led to prisoner abuse: ex official
Thu Nov 3, 1:22 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Vice President Dick Cheney's office was responsible for directives which led to US soldiers abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, a former top State Department official charged.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, told National Public Radio he had traced a trail of memos and directives authorizing questionable detention practices up through Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office directly to Cheney's staff.
"The Secretary of Defense under cover of the Vice President's office ... regardless of the President having put out this memo ... they began to authorize procedures within the armed forces that led to what we've seen," Wilkerson said.
He claimed the directives contradicted a 2002 order by President George W. Bush for the US military to abide by the Geneva Conventions against torture.
"There was a visible audit trail from the Vice President's office through the Secretary of Defense, down to the commanders in the field," authorizing practices that led to the abuse of detainees, Wilkerson said.
The directives were "in carefully couched terms", Wilkerson conceded, but said they had the effect of loosening the reins on US troops, leading to many cases of prisoner abuse, including at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, that were contrary to the Geneva Conventions.
"If you are a military man, you know that you just don't do these sorts of things" because troops will take advantage, or feel so pressured to obtain information that "they have to do what they have to do to get it," Wilkerson said.
He said that Powell had assigned him to investigate the matter after stories emerged in the media about US troops abusing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both men had formerly served in the US military.
Wilkerson also called David Addington, the vice president's lawyer, "a staunch advocate of allowing the president in his capacity as commander-in-chief to deviate from the Geneva Conventions."
On Monday, Cheney promoted Addington to his chief of staff to replace I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, who has been indicted over the unmasking of a CIA agent.
Wilkerson also told National Public Radio that Cheney's office ran an "alternate national security staff" that spied on and undermined the president's formal National Security Council.
He said National Security Council staff stopped sending emails when they found out Cheney's staffers were reading their messages.
He said he believed that Cheney's staff prevented Bush from seeing a National Security Council memo arguing strongly that the US needed far more troops for the March 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Wilkerson also said that former CIA chief George Tenet was not "possessed of the intestinal fortitude" to inform Cheney's office of key weaknesses in the government's argument that Saddam Hussein had or was seeking weapons of mass destruction.
That argument was central to the Bush administration's justifications for the Iraq war.
Wilkerson has also said recently that Cheney and Rumsfeld operated a "cabal" that hijacked US foreign and military policy.
Afghan Interior Ministry reforms rank, pay structures
November 3, 2005 Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan Coalition Press Information Center (Public Affairs)
By Air Force Capt. Dave Huxsoll Office of Security Cooperation-Afghanistan Public Affairs
KABUL , Afghanistan – Afghanistan ’s Ministry of the Interior is improving its ability to provide safety and security for the people of Afghanistan by dramatically rearranging its command structure.
With the assistance of the German Police Project Office and the Office of Security Cooperation-Afghanistan, the MOI is reorganizing its rank and organizational structure and that of the Afghan National Police to produce a more efficient and streamlined force, with clearer chains of command and communication.
“We want to increase the capabilities of our force to create a secure environment for Afghan families, businesses and communities,” said Yousuf Stanizai, MOI spokesman. “Having too many general officers undervalues the meaning of rank and can damage the discipline within an organization. This is something we want to avoid.”
Currently, the number of field grade and general officers outnumber police sergeants by a ratio of almost 3-to-2. “There’s a gross surplus of senior officers in the MOI and ANP, creating an almost reverse pyramid organization,” explained Army Col. Paul Calbos, chief of OSC-A’s Police Reform Directorate Ministry Reform Division. “By downsizing the number of these positions, the ministry will become a more organized, efficient and streamlined organization, with proper command and control.”
The general officer and field grade ranks are being thinned in a three-phase process designed to select the most competent, qualified and honest officers for each position. The first phase involves the selection of the 31 highest ranking positions in the MOI and ANP.
A concurrent process of pay reform within the ANP will result in significant salary increases for almost all members of the police force. So although some members may not maintain their current rank, if they remain on the force they will be making substantially more money, explained Air Force Maj. Jeffrey DeJoannis, deputy chief in the PRD Ministry Reform Branch.
Selection of the “Top 31” is a four-step process, with each step designed to further narrow down the field of officers. All of those interested in one of the 31 positions first had to submit an application. Next, a files review transition board examined each candidate’s education, variety and depth of experience, personal history and character. The board consisted of seven senior officers from the MOI; Ambassador Rudolf Schmidt, formerly the German special representative for Afghan Security Sector Reform; and Ray Fitzgerald, director of OSC-A’s PRD.
Next, each candidate was given a written exam to assess his knowledge of the law and legal procedures, his analytical abilities, management style and ethics.
Finally, the remaining candidates were interviewed by members of a selection board consisting of Interim Minister of the Interior Zarar Ahmad Moqbil, MOI chief of staff Lt. Gen. Sayed Mohammad Qudussi, special adviser to the MOI Gen. Ghulam Ghaws Naseri, Schmidt and Fitzgerald. The board then made three recommendations for each of the 31 positions.
Moqbil made the final selections based on recommendations from the board and forwarded the list to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for final approval. An announcement of the MOI’s “Top 31” is expected shortly.
Selection of the “Top 31” was executed over a two-month period, and all general officers from one star to three were able to compete for these leadership positions. “The process was carefully managed to ensure fairness and impartiality,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Ernie Martinez, PRD Ministry Reform Branch chief.
The second phase of rank reform will select 86 remaining general officer positions. This process will closely mirror the first phase selection process, with applications, interviews, file reviews and exams. This phase will be more decentralized than the first, however, with MOI and ANP leadership traveling to regions throughout Afghanistan to meet with the applicants.
“It’s very important for the newly-appointed leadership to travel out to the regions and provinces to put a face on the Afghan police reform and to promote the process to the entire country. They will be critical in the selection process since the generals they select will be responsible for the operations under their command and ultimately, the success of the entire reform process,” Martinez said.
The third and final phase will select personnel for the ranks of samunyar (major) through samunwai (colonel).
“These are important reforms that will ensure that the highest qualified police officers meet the highest standards,” Stanizai said.
SCO and Afghanistan create Contact Group
BEIJING, November 4 (Itar-Tass) - - The Contact Group Shanghai Cooperation Organization - - Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has been created in Beijing on Saturday.
An appropriate protocol was signed at the SCO Secretariat by Executive Secretary of this organization Zhang Deguang and ambassador of Afghanistan to China Qiamuddin Rai Barlas.
“Our organization develops relations with other states and international agencies on principles of openness. Afghanistan has always enjoyed special attention of the SCO, it is not accidental that President Hamid Karzai attended the SCO summit in Tashkent in June 2005,” Zhang Deguang told Itar-Tass.
As was stressed at the signing ceremony of the document, “changes in the situation in Afghanistan are exerting influence on the situation connected with security in Central Asia.”
“The creation of the Contact Group SCO-Afghanistan is an important step in maintaining peace and stability, in developing cooperation between states of the region,” the Afghan ambassador noted.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization unites Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran have the status of observers at this organization.
Daily Afghan Report
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty - November 3, 2005
Former Taliban Leader Reiterates Call For Afghan Jihad Against Foreign Forces...
In a message dated 1 November published by the Peshawar-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP), the former leader of the Taliban regime, Mullah Mohammad Omar, calls on Afghans to wage jihad against the U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The message, sent as a congratulatory note to mark the end of Ramadan, warns Afghans that "jihad against the current infidel aggressor is an obligation" and lack of participation in it is "a major sin." Omar calls on his compatriots to join him in the jihad that he says is for Afghan "independence" and the "protection of Islamic laws" with their lives, property, and pens. The ousted Taliban leader says that "some newspapers and magazines in Kabul openly make fun of Islam," and those writing such articles are showered with money by Western embassies. In his message, Omar also congratulates "the heroic and mujahedin and freedom-loving nation of Iraq." Omar also expresses sympathy to Pakistan in connection with the October earthquake. AT
...As Renegade Former Prime Minister Assures Victory
In a message commemorating the end of Ramadan dated 2 November and published by AIP, former Afghan Prime Minister and Hizb-e Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar assures Afghans that "victory and the day of the defeat of the enemy is near." Hekmatyar compares the presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to the occupation of the country by the former Soviet Union from 1979 to 1989, adding that the behavior of "the Americans and the British" is "more abominable than the Russians'." Listing the insecurities in Afghanistan, Hekmatyar writes that the "only solution" for peace in Afghanistan is for the foreign forces to leave the country and an "interim Afghan government to the liking of the Afghans" to be formed, leading to free elections and the formation of an "elected Islamic government." Since the demise of the Taliban regime in late 2001, there have been numerous rumors of an alliance between the neo-Taliban and Hekmatyar, though in their messages neither Omar nor Hekmatyar refer to any such arrangement. AT
Netherlands To Increase Its Military Presence In Afghanistan
The number of Dutch forces in Afghanistan is to increase from the current 950 to 1,300, National Television of Afghanistan reported on 2 November. The announcement came during a meeting in Kabul on 2 November between Dutch Defense Minister Henk Kamp and Afghan First Deputy Defense Minister Mohammad Yusof Nurestani. The majority of Dutch troops, under NATO command, are to be stationed in the restive southern Afghan province of Oruzgan and in some parts of Kandahar. Nurestani pledged that Afghanistan will also dispatch a number of forces to the same areas where the Dutch forces will be responsible for maintaining security. Kamp and Nurestani also signed an agreement regulating the fate of prisoners of war captured by Dutch forces. AT
Five Policemen Killed In Southern Afghanistan
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Yusof Stanakzai on 2 November confirmed the killing of five Afghan policemen on 1 November in Helmand Province, AIP reported. Stanakzai attributed the attack in which the officers were killed to the neo-Taliban. Hajji Mohammad Rahim, head of Deshu District where the incident occurred, told AIP on 2 November that five militants were also killed in the incident. AT
Afghan Authorities Caution Population About Bird Flu
The Public Health Ministry issued an announcement on 2 November cautioning people about avian influenza (bird flu), Radio Afghanistan reported. According to the announcement, 15 types of chicken influenza have been discovered including the H5N1 strain that can infect humans. As a precautionary measure, the ministry advises Afghans to report chicken illnesses to agricultural officials, prevent children from touching chickens, and avoid eating imported chickens. AT
Afghan women find political voice
Herald Sun - Nov 04 6:27 PM By Emmanuel Duparcq and correspondents in Herat
WITH no beard and no turban, the surprise winner of parliamentary elections in Afghanistan's conservative province of Herat is a petite, 33-year-old dynamo: Fauzia Sadat Gailani is a fitness instructor and wants to form the first women's political party in the country's history.
n this devout western province on the border with Iran, few could have foreseen that this young woman with a round face would have triumphed over influential war commanders and other local leaders.
But with 16,885 votes, about 3.6 per cent of the provincial total, on a crowded ballot paper, she has topped the tally for Herat's seats on the new national assembly, Afghanistan's first in more than three decades.
Gailani was largely unknown before the September poll but her success cannot only be attributed to her election poster, which put her pretty face -- with big brown eyes and bright red lips -- against a mauve background.
"She was really busy: people say that she's done an excellent campaign," says Abdul Aziz Samiem, from the National Democratic Institute non-government organisation which monitored the poll.
"We saw her red 4X4 everywhere, in villages, in schools, in districts," he says, putting Gailani's success down to several factors.
"Ordinary people think she's pretty, she's done a very strong campaign, women may have thought that she could be a good candidate for them," he says.
She was also helped by her name, with Gailani and Sadat two respected families in Afghanistan, despite her limited education.
Born in Herat, she fled during the Soviet occupation and spent 16 years in Iran before returning home after the fall in 2001 of the hardline Islamic Taliban, which kept women at home and under the burqa.
Now Gailani pushes, before everything, the equality of rights between men and women.
"Women are not seen as human beings in Afghanistan, but like objects that people can sell, trade or buy," she said.
"There are not enough rights for women in this country: they cannot study, they cannot work."
She is particularly against child marriage, which is common in Afghanistan.
"I can talk about it: I was married at 12, I had my first child at 13, and I hated that," she said.
Sitting at her side, her husband nods with an embarrassed pout. Later, when he has left, the mother of six adds, "If I could have chosen, I would have had only one child. One is good."
As though trying to make up for the time she lost while away, she is involved in a plethora of activities which cement her local network of relations with women.
A key project is a fitness centre she set up on her return to Herat with equipment imported from Iran. About 30 contraptions, some rudimentary, are spread out across a red carpet, in front a mirrored wall decorated with plastic flowers.
"I'm more powerful when I'm doing sports," Gailani said. "It's healthy and it's also good for the mind of women, to make them understand that they can get their rights."
This is what happened with her election campaign.
"At first I thought that I couldn't say all that and win in this closed society. But after the campaign started, I saw people and I realised that I could make it. Now that lots of people voted for me ... no one can stop me at the parliament," she says.
She knows, however, that she will not have an easy time in the national assembly, which will be dominated by mujahedin warlords and Islamist jihadis, or holy warriors, often as conservative as the Taliban.
To "raise the voice of women", Gailani says, "I want to make a women's political party at the Parliament with other elected women."
Members could include Malalai Joya, a strong critic of warlords who came second in the parliamentary vote in neighbouring Farah province.
But before rallying other MPs, Gailani has some convincing to do at home. "You're going too far," exclaims her husband when she mentions her goal.
"A women's political party... It's not possible."
"Even at home, I have problems with my husband sometimes," Gailani admits.
"Do you think that it's possible to create a women's party now in Afghanistan? Isn't that dangerous for us?" she asks.
Afghan film festival offers a look at life after Taliban
Daily Yomiuri Online - Nov 04 10:36 AM
A film festival featuring documentaries that depict life in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime will be held later this month in Tokyo, hosted by a nonprofit organization.
Nine films, mostly documentaries, produced by Afghan university students and others, portray the lives of Afghan people hoping for reconstruction of the war-torn nation.
Soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, U.S.-led forces launched a military campaign against Osama bin Laden, believed to be the mastermind of the attacks, and the radical Islamic Taliban regime that supported him.
The Taliban, which collapsed in November that year, banned films and music, saying they depraved people. Theaters were transformed into military facilities. Cameras, films and other items used in film production were mostly destroyed.
Since around October 2003, Tenri University in Nara Prefecture started offering assistance to Kabul University, where efforts to resume film production were being made following the fall of the Taliban regime. Movie cameras and other items were donated to the university. The nonprofit organization Cross Arts also started offering support in film production.
"Afghan Triangle," a 90-minute documentary film, was jointly produced by students of Kabul University's arts department and staff of Tenri University and Cross Arts.
The film focuses on Afghan women who had been prohibited from receiving education and leaving home with their faces uncovered under the Taliban regime and who have now started studying journalism and other subjects.
The films to be shown also include the 2004 film "Stoning," directed by Ahmadi Latif, which highlights the tragic lives of Afghan women living in a male-dominated society. "Stranger" is a film directed by Siddiq Barmak in 1985 and has not been publicly shown to date.
The director won the Camera d'Or award for best newcomer at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003. There also is a documentary introducing buzkashi, Afghanistan's national sport, played on horseback.
Tatsuya Murayama, 41, a composer and head of the NPO, of Ota Ward, Tokyo, said, "I hope people will be interested in the lives of ordinary citizens in Afghanistan, who are striving to rebuild the nation, in which public interest seems to have waned after the fall of the Taliban regime."
The Afghanistan Film Festival will take place at Ikegami Kaikan hall in Ota Ward, Tokyo, on Nov. 26 and 27 from 2 p.m. An admission ticket good for both days is 1,200 yen. A symposium attended by Latif will be held from 4 p.m. each day. Inquiries can be made at Cross Arts at (03) 3729-5608.
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